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Full text of "The Life Of Charles Stewart Parnell Vol - I"

"i08               CHARLES STEWART PARNELL             [1880
an amendment to the Address affirming that,' although in possession of timely warning and information, the Government had not taken adequate steps to alleviate the distress,' and adding that ' it was essential to the peace and prosperity of Ireland to legislate at once in a  comprehensive  manner  on  those  questions which affect the tenure of land  in  Ireland, the neglect of which by Parliament had been the true cause of the constantly recurring disaffection and distress in Ireland.' In the debate which followed Sir Stafford Northcote made a statement on the. subject of that distress which we are told' startled' the House.    ' The statistics/ says the  'Annual Register,'   'given  by  Sir   S. Northcote from the report of the Kegistrar-General on the agricultural condition of Ireland were startling.    It was estimated that there had been a falling off in the principal crops from the yield of the previous year to the value of 10,000,OOOZ.    The value of the potato crop was  more than  6,000,OOOZ. below  the   average. . . . Figures of such an enormous deficiency startled many who had been previously disposed to believe that the Irish distress had no serious foundation except in the imaginations of the Home Eulers and anti-rent agitators.'    The  British Parliament, with characteristic indifference, had turned a deaf ear to the remonstrances of the Irish representatives until famine was upon the land and the fires of agitation were blazing in every district.   Even then Ministers pottered with the situation.    Of course Mr. Shaw's amendment was defeated by an overwhelming majority—216  against  66—the notion  of reforming the  land laws  of  Ireland  was scouted, and an inadequate Belief Bill passed.1
1 This Belief Bill was thus described by the present Lord  Chief Justice of England before the Parnell Commission: ' The form it took